Protest at Paris schools over immigrant expulsions

Associated Press
Students set up barricades and display a banner reading "Education in danger" outside their highschool to protest against immigration policy, in Paris, Thursday, Oct.17, 2013. Kosovan girl Leonarda Dibrani was finishing up a field trip when French police showed up at the bus, detaining the 15-year-old schoolgirl in front of her classmates before authorities expelled her to Kosovo because her family's asylum application had been rejected. The incident earlier this month, but which was made public this week, has sparked outrage from immigrant groups and others who say police went too far in publicly shaming the teenager. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
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PARIS (AP) — Hundreds of French teenagers erected barricades outside their schools and marched through Paris on Thursday to protest the police expulsions of immigrant families — including some of their classmates.

A few students clashed with police firing tear gas but most marched peacefully, some climbing on bus shelters to shout demands for the interior minister's resignation.

Anger erupted this week over the treatment of a 15-year-old Kosovar girl who was detained in front of classmates on a field trip. The government says her eight-member family had been denied asylum and was no longer allowed to stay in France.

Such expulsions occur regularly around France as the government tries to limit illegal immigration. But the treatment of the girl touched a nerve, with critics saying police went too far and betrayed France's image as a champion of human rights.

The students, saying the expulsions are unfair to children, hope to pressure France's Socialist-led government into allowing the girl and a recently expelled Armenian boy to return to France.

At one high school in Paris, students piled green garbage cans in front of the entrance and hung a banner saying "Education in Danger."

"Everybody should have a chance. Everybody should have a job, work and have a family. When children try to achieve that, France refuses, and that is not my country," said protester Romain Desprez.

The Kosovar girl, Leonarda Dibrani, told The Associated Press from the northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica that she wants to return to France. Activists say her Dibrani family fled Kosovo about five years ago because they are Roma, or Gypsies, and faced discrimination and few opportunities.

"My home is in France," Dibrani said in French. "I don't speak the language here and I don't know anyone. I just want to go back to France and forget everything that happened."

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Nebi Qena contributed from Kosovo.

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